Troika back in Greece, heckled and jeered after latest austerity meeting

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Troika back in Greece, heckled and jeered after latest austerity meeting

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There was a rough reception in Athens for officials of the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank – the troika.

They were the target of noisy protests at the Finance Ministry.

Normally the police keep such demonstrators away from the troika budget inspectors, but these were employees of the Finance Ministry, which mean they could get close to boo and heckle.

That followed yet more inconclusive talks on Greece meeting its promises to the international lenders in return for further bailout loans.

Right now the two sides can’t even agree on how big a hole Greece will have in its finances next year.

Athens says it will be 500 million euros short but the troika has calculated it will be two billion euros.

Sarah Hewin, Senior Economist with Standard Chartered, says there are many sticking points: “The troika are not particularly happy about slippage on privatisation, and they still want the Greek government to do more in terms of cutting spending, raising revenues. From the Greek side, of course, they’ve undergone a long period of recession and the feeling is that they’ve done pretty much up to the limit of what they’re able to achieve.”

The talks at the Finance Ministry also focused on the economic reforms Greece has pledged to carry out, including forced transfers and layoffs of civil servants and the closure or sale of loss-making state owned companies.

The fragile coalition government has rejected across-the-board wage and pension cuts or tax increases but might agree to more targeted measures.